Thomas E. Ask teaches his students at Pennsylvania College of Technology that industrial design connects art with engineering and that they must use multiple tools, materials and processes to develop creative solutions and products, often for people. different from them.
For proof, the professor of industrial design can refer to his recently published book – “Wooden Wonders: Traditional Malaysian Fishing Boats” – a 162-page book examining ancient boat building techniques that remain a staple in the Southeast Asian country.
“My book is all about designing for the other. That is, designing things for people who are different from us. This requires techniques rooted in both engineering and anthropology to achieve successful and appropriate designs ”, Ask explained.
Derived from his doctoral thesis, the book examines the technical and social factors that influenced the design and construction of wooden boats, a vital form of transportation that dates back centuries in Malaysia. The country, made up of two non-contiguous regions bordering the South China Sea, is referenced in ancient texts for its central role in maritime trade.
“Wooden wonders” mixes ethnographic study and technical evaluations and presents unique boat designs. Ask also hopes that it will serve as an archive for the state of wooden boat building. A chapter offers on-site measurement of the hull of an 18-meter fishing boat and a detailed photograph.
Aimed at specialists in ethnographic design and maritime history, the book is published by the academic press of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, considered the best engineering school in the country. Ask spent a semester there in 2009 as a visiting professor of mechanical engineering.
In October, the school plans to host a webinar featuring Ask to coincide with the release of their book.
“Wooden wonders” is the eighth book of Ask. He currently writes science fiction short stories for young adults on Kindle Vella, Amazon’s serial reading platform.
A licensed professional engineer, Ask taught at Penn College for 20 years. He advises the Society of Inventors and Mad Scientists on campus.
Ask holds a PhD in Industrial Design from Middlesex University, a Certificate in Management from Cornell University, an MA in Liberal Studies from Excelsior College and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the ‘University of Illinois. He is a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America and the American Society for Engineering Education.